The Trump administration issued new policy guidance Friday that will make it more difficult for companies to bring foreign workers in “specialty occupations” into the United States using the H-1 B visa program.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a policy memo that revises the way the agency will process visa applications for certain positions in the science and information technology sectors, making the qualifications for “specialty occupations” more stringent.
“Based on the current version of the Handbook, the fact that a person may be employed as a computer programmer and may use information technology skills and knowledge to help an enterprise achieve its goals in the course of his or her job is not sufficient to establish the position as a specialty occupation,” the memo reads.
The H-1B visa program is used by companies to import temporary employees for highly skilled positions that are difficult to fill. The Justice Department has issued a warning to tech companies and IT outsourcing firms petitioning for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. candidates.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains an anti-discrimination provision prohibiting employers from discriminating against U.S. workers on the basis of their citizenship or national origin in hiring, firing and recruiting.
Companies will be cited for violation of the INA if they demonstrate a hiring preference for H-1B visa holders over American candidates.
“The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”
H-1B visas are awarded via a federal government lottery system that opened Monday. Companies may now apply for visas for the 2018 fiscal year.
H/T: The Hill
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